Monday, 27 January

Down to -11° yesterday. Because we’d left Elsa in the car, we did not linger too long at the Vienna-Berlin exhibition, paintings between the 1890s and World War II, at the Berlinische Galerie (http://www.berlinischegalerie.de/ausstellungen-berlin/rueckblick/2013/wien-berlin). There were many artists I didn’t know, quite a few among them that I didn’t like, but experiencing the artistic reaction to the wrenching history of that period was captivating. How the art got more violent and out of joint as the times became more violent and out of joint.

After we had a walk on the Hasenheide. We saw no sign of hares (Hasen), just drug dealers lurking at the edges of this park, and in the middle hordes of parents and young children sledding down the broad but rather pathetically tame descents. It has surprised me, how traditional the Germans are, given that so many have lived abroad, speak perfect English and maybe another foreign language to boot. But they come back and lead similar German lives, outwardly at least. Hence on a snowy day, regardless of the temperature, parents take their children sledding on old-fashioned wood sleds. In Paris, where there actually are natural, respectably steep hills, children don’t own wooden sleds. If they did, I do not think they would use them at -11°C.

The Germans appear to be at ease in both a globalised and traditional world. And they love the out-of-doors at any temperature.